Many on the far-right like to imagine themselves as pranksters — but a judge in Atlanta, Georgia is taking the actions of two white supremacists very seriously. After interrupting an African-American child's birthday party with confederate flags, racial slurs, and death threats in 2015 - reportedly inspired by Dylann Roof - Kayla Rae Norton and Jose Ismael Torres have been handed some serious sentences.
According to CNN, Norton and Torres were riding with a group known as "Respect The Flag" when they crashed a party described by the district attorney's official Facebook page: "The convoy of trucks passed by the victim's residence where the victims were grilling hot dogs and hamburgers while hosting a child's birthday party featuring a bouncy castle, snow-cone machines, and a DJ." There, party-goers say they were shouted at and threatened with weapons.
"Torres, who had retrieved a shotgun from his vehicle, pointed his shotgun at the group of African American party-goers and stated he was going to kill them while his co-defendants stated that 'the little ones can get one too,' referring to the young children at the party ... Law enforcement was able to locate numerous posts and messages indicating that members of the group were white supremacists who discussed attending KKK rallies, joining Skinheads Nation, and making numerous derogatory remarks about African Americans as a whole," the district attorney's statement says.
A judge ultimately came to the obvious conclusion that “their actions were motivated by racial hatred,” leading to the conviction of Norton and Torres on charges of aggravated assault, making terroristic threats, and violating Georgia's Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act. Torres was sentenced to 20 years, with 13 years in prison; Kayla Norton was sentenced to 15 years, with six years in prison. Fifteen members of the "Respect The Flag" group were also indicted, but some received lesser sentences for pleading guilty.
Norton begged the family she harassed for forgiveness during the trial. "I want you all to know that is not me. That is not me, that is not him. I would never walk up to you and say those words to you. I'm so sorry that happened to you. I am so sorry," she said through tears.
Hyesha Bryant, one of the victims of the hate crime, responded: "What you said affected my life. It affected my children's lives ... I forgive you, I forgive all of you."
Both Norton and Torres are banned from entering Douglas County after their sentences are served.
[Photo: Getty Images]
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